When Will They Learn?
Well,we’ve got some catching up to do so we’ll get started on our next chapter of Venezuela : Down The Rabbit Hole, “Free Gas” tomorrow.
First up we have an article from Responsible Statecraft which prompted me to think, “When will they ever learn?” They had some good numbers in there but,as is all too common, they draw the wrong conclusion. The Agriculture Organization reports that the number of Venezuelans in the last 5 years that are undernourished is up 500%. They also tell us that there has been a sharp rise in both infant and adult mortality rates. The article says sanctions are to blame…I say no!
We have covered extensively that the problems afflicting the Venezuelan population are the result of Chavismo..pure and simple. In order to believe that with the easing of sanctions you would have to believe that the Maduro regime would actually use any extra revenue to help the Venezuelan people. There is no evidence to support that train of thought and a lot of evidence to the contrary.
Sanctions aside, in the last year oil prices have gone up from around $60 a barrel to about $100 a barrel. Now granted, the price of Venezuela crude is substantially lower than $100 due to it’s extra heavy properties and the refining issues that presents as well as contamination problems due to the Chavistas allowing the infrastructure to collapse (which happened before sanctions were initiated). The percentage increase, however, is the same. With an over 50% increase in the price of oil things should have improved significantly for the Venezuelan people. As we’ve detailed in our news articles, they have not.
Also in the last year, even if you don’t believe the PDVSA (government owned oil company) numbers, which I don’t, oil production numbers have gone up significantly. Taking into account the “they’re lying about the numbers” factor oil production is up at least, on average, about 250,000 bpd (barrels per day). Even the most pessimistic calculation would give the Maduro regime an extra $15 million a month which should translate into some kind of improvement for the Venezuelan people. We know personally (my wife is Venezuelan and talks to friends and family there every week), they have not.
The Maduro regime spends every extra dollar it can get it’s hands on for increased military spending and to solidify it’s power in other areas not to mention there are way too many Chavista millionaires and billionaires. How else can you explain the fact that before the sanctions Venezuela, already an economic basket case, ranked number 8 in the world in private jet ownership and after years of sanctions and still an economic basket case Venezuela ranks number 8 in the world in private jet ownership?
The Chavistas, after looting the coffers of the Venezuelan people and borrowing from Russia and China at unprecedented levels, were not satisfied and the only way they could continue to enrich themselves and perpetuate their hold on power was at the expense of the Venezuelan people. As Margaret Thatcher famously said, “The problem with socialism is, sooner or later they run out of other people’s money.” The Chavistas don’t suffer, the Venezuelan people do…and the migration exodus continues. When will they learn?
We also have a piece from USIP (United States Institute for Peace) detailing the many problems in Venezuela and calling it an “unprecedented social and humanitarian collapse.” They are calling for more dialogue but to their credit they didn’t blame sanctions for the collapse.
On a positive note we have PR Newswire reporting that the Simon Bolivar Foundation ( funded by CITGO,which is owned by PDVSA, which is owned by the Venezuela government) has entered it’s 2nd grant agreement with IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross) for $850,000 to enhance community health in Venezuela. They need all the enhancement they can get. It’s worth noting that the foundation is an NGO controlled out of Houston and not Caracas.
Then we have TASS (Russia) reporting that Nicolas Maduro says they are going to increase flights from Caracas to Moscow, currently at one per week, and also will expand military cooperation with Russia. Does any of this help the people of Venezuela?
And we have Law360 reporting that the trial date for corrupt businessman (or Venezuelan diplomat, depending on who you talk to) Alex Saab is set for October 11th. It is centered around a $350 million bribery case but what’s more important is everything around it…you know…like Saab setting up Maduro’s fraudulent CLAP food program which was used to enrich himself and not to help the people of Venezuela.
The we have Telesur (government media) blatantly sucking up to the Chinese Communist Party by reporting (if you can call it that) the 2022 Beijing Olympics could be the most watched video program in US history. Noteworthy in it’s absence is the word “television”. Actual TV viewership is at all time lows. The video programming referenced are various social media streams via YouTube etc., which were nowhere near as prevalent in the past as they are today.
And in some timely oil news we have Tradewinds reporting that an Outrans tanker is being held in Singapore until a dispute over a contaminated methanol shipment from Venezuela is resolved. Contamination is a common problem with Venezuela’s petroleum product exports and usually leads to substantially discounted prices. It is directly related to their dilapidated storage facilities and other infrastructure related issues.
Caracas Chronicles had a good follow up on the Alex Saab case. Court documents reveal that Alex Saab presented multiple invoices and documents for the same shipment of goods and materials and paid bribes to SENIAT, GN13, and CADIVI (government entities in Venezuela).
CC also reported that the Chile government is sending 700 military and police to the border to control the Venezuelan migrant situation. They also mentioned that 10 Venezuelans were arrested in Peru for the robbery and murder of a farmer that refused to pay extortion. They are members of the gang “Los Salvajes de Maracaibo.” So, is Venezuela exporting gangs now to surrounding countries?
In another sign that countries in the region are growing weary of dealing with the flood of migrants fleeing 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism we have FX Empire reporting that beginning this week Costa Rica will require visas for Venezuelans entering the country. Obtaining visas will be complicated by the fact that Costa Rica, like many other countries, no longer has an embassy in Caracas. Remember, Mexico recently did the same thing.
And DW reports that anti-Venezuelan hostility continues at the Chilean border. I guess that’s why they’re sending those 700 military and police there.
Then we have the International Crisis Group joining those that have a proposal listing recommendations to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. While there was nothing new in their recommendations they did have an interesting take on China’s support of the Maduro regime…it’s their best chance to recover all the money they invested in ill-fated joint ventures with Chavismo.
Oh, and to nobody’s surprise, BA Times reports that the socialist government of Argentina says they will investigate Maduro’s invasion plan claims.
And Noticias RCN reports that there are 5 Russian radar units operating in Venezuela/Colombia border areas. How’s that for priorities?
We also have the news that Hugo Chavez’s former treasurer is now free. His sentence was reduced 65% for cooperating with US authorities. He’s another of those Chavista millionaires/billionaires we mentioned earlier.
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